BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

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Lubetzky and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2010-103

Members
  • Peter Radich (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Tapu Misa
  • Mary Anne Shanahan
Dated
Complainant
  • Boris Lubetzky
Number
2010-103
Programme
Sunday
Channel/Station
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Sunday
– item interviewed aid worker Nicola Enchmarch about being caught up in an Israeli commando raid on a flotilla off Gaza in which nine activists died – footage of a man throwing a rock and of another man bleeding shown during discussion of Ms Enchmarch’s previous attempt to get aid to Gaza by land – allegedly inaccurate


Findings

Standard 5 (accuracy) – footage subject to complaint did not constitute a material point of fact to which the standard applied and was not misleading – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]   An item on Sunday, broadcast on TV One at 7.30pm on Sunday 13 June 2010, contained the first television interview with aid worker Nicola Enchmarch, who was on board an aid ship called the Mavi Marmara which was raided by Israeli commandos while en route to Gaza. Nine activists were killed during the raid.

[2]   A Sunday reporter conducted an interview with Ms Enchmarch who presented her version of events. After the first advertisement break, the programme returned to the interview with Ms Enchmarch and provided some personal background about her.

[3]   The Sunday reporter commented that, “Last year, Nicky was part of a campaign led by the charity Viva Palestina...”. As the reporter made the statement, footage was shown of a man throwing a rock during a night time demonstration and of another man with a bloody head and hand. The original reporter from that footage was heard saying, “as patience wore thin, tensions soared”. The Sunday reporter then continued her narrative saying “... to get aid to Gaza by land. Now it’s the Mavi Marmara, it’s by sea”.

Complaint

[4]   Boris Lubetzky made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the footage of the man throwing the rock and of the other bleeding man was misleading and in breach of Standard 5 (accuracy).

[5]   The complainant stated that the “embedded video” footage showed Viva Palestina activists clashing with Egyptian security forces on the Egyptian border in El-Arish and noted that this had not been mentioned by the reporter or during the programme.

[6]   Mr Lubetzky argued that, “Since the entire programme was dedicated to the Israeli attack on Mavi Marmara and other Israeli attacks on Palestinians, this clip leads viewers to believe it is the Israeli forces clashing with Viva Palestina supporters”. He considered that the programme had misled viewers by not “identifying the actors” in the footage and had not presented the facts accurately.

Standards

[7]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provides:

Standard 5 Accuracy

Broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming:

• is accurate in relation to all material points of fact and/or

• does not mislead.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[8]   TVNZ said that it acknowledged that the footage referred to by the complainant depicted Viva Palestina personnel clashing with Egyptian forces and that this was not mentioned in the item. However, the broadcaster also noted that the item had not said that the footage depicted Israeli security either.

[9]   The broadcaster disagreed with Mr Lubetzky that the “entire programme was dedicated to the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara”. It argued that substantial parts of the story were devoted to explaining to viewers exactly who Ms Enchmarch was, where she came from and what she stood for.

[10]   TVNZ contended that the purpose of the script accompanying the brief footage was to paint a picture of Ms Enchmarch and her background in the lead up to the flotilla incident. It was of the view that the footage and accompanying script took viewers away from the latest skirmish and back a year to another episode Ms Enchmarch was involved in.

[11]   The broadcaster argued that the Sunday reporter’s narrative informed viewers that, “Last year Nicky was part of a campaign led by the charity Viva Palestina to get aid to Gaza by land ... Now in the Mavi Marmara, it’s by sea”. It considered that by using “last year”, the reporter had verbally disconnected the viewer from the latest flotilla attack and away to a completely different situation.

[12]   TVNZ considered that viewers would not have been misled into thinking that the target of the Palestinian aggression in the footage was Israeli rather than Egyptian. Further, it noted that the sequence subject to complaint was 10 seconds long and argued that the footage was not material to the item, did not present any facts incorrectly, and would not have coloured viewers’ judgment or misled them.

[13]   The broadcaster declined to uphold the complaint that Standard 5 was breached.

Referral to the Authority

[14]   Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Mr Lubetzky referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[15]   The complainant argued that because the item did not mention that the footage depicted Egyptian forces clashing with protestors, viewers would have naturally assumed that it was Israeli security forces involved. He maintained that “facts were presented incorrectly since the clip was not identified, and by that fact would have coloured viewers’ judgment and misled them”.

Authority's Determination

[16]   The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[17]   Standard 5 states that broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming is accurate in relation to all material points of fact, and does not mislead.

[18]   Mr Lubetzky argued that the programme had misled viewers by not “identifying the actors” in the footage and had not presented the facts accurately.

[19]   We consider that the brief footage was an accurate illustration of the reporter’s statement, which referred to Ms Enchmarch’s involvement in a campaign led by Viva Palestina to get aid to Gaza by land. In our view, it was irrelevant whether that particular clash with Viva Palestina involved Egyptian or Israeli forces as this was not material to the item’s focus, which was Ms Enchmarch’s experiences with Viva Palestina.

[20]   As a result, we conclude that the footage did not constitute a material point of fact to which Standard 5 applied, and we find that the lack of an explanation about which security forces were involved in the clash did not result in viewers being misled.

[21]   Accordingly, we decline to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 5.

 

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

Peter Radich
Chair
23 November 2010

Appendix

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1.           Boris Lubetzky’s formal complaint – 28 June 2010

2.          TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 6 August 2010

3.          Mr Lubetzky’s referral to the Authority – 22 August 2010

4.          TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 11 October 2010